Set in 1947, David S. Pederson’s fifth Heath Barrington novel, Death Overdue (Bold Strokes, $16.95), begins with the Milwaukee police detective receiving a threatening letter from the precinct’s janitor—his cousin Liz’s abusive and apparently vindictive ex-husband, Lawrence Crow—claiming to “know about” Heath and his boyfriend, beat cop Alan Keyes. When Heath shows up at Larry’s apartment to discuss the situation, Larry reveals that, while emptying the trash, he discovered a love note addressed to Alan from Heath. Unless Heath gives Larry $500 by noon tomorrow, Larry will out the men, placing both at risk of unemployment—if not also institutionalization and lobotomization. Distraught, Heath heads to a nearby bar, where he drinks himself into oblivion. The next morning, he wakes to news of Larry’s murder and panics: not only does he have no memory of the previous evening, but his shirt is stained with someone else’s blood.
Worse, when he arrives at work, the chief demands to know why Heath’s name appears in a ledger found at the crime scene. Heath deflects but knows that if his coworkers find Larry’s stash of blackmail material before Heath can figure out what happened, it won’t matter whether he actually killed Larry or not. Deftly drawn characters, brisk pacing, and an easy charm distinguish Pederson’s winning follow-up to 2019’s Death Takes a Bow. Pederson successfully evokes and shrewdly capitalizes upon the time in which his mystery takes place, using the era’s prejudices and politics to heighten the story’s stakes and more thoroughly invest readers in its outcome. Plausible suspects, persuasive red herrings, and cleverly placed clues keep the pages frantically flipping until the book’s gratifying close.
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THE MANY FACES OF MORIARTY
By 1893, Arthur Conan Doyle was a worldwide literary sensation. But he was also a man dogged by an unlikely enemy, and that enemy’s name was Sherlock Holmes. Frankenstein-like, the fictional detective haunted his creator, tormenting him, and would not leave him alone. For it must be said that Conan Doyle was a man of high literary aspirations, with a yearning to write books of both “serious” literature and psychical research. But the demand for new Holmes stories prevented him from realising this ambition. Speaking of this period in his career, Conan Doyle observed in an interview for Tit-Bits in December 1900 that “My low work was obscuring my higher.”
From an isolated cabin in a boggy Swedish forest, Will Dean conjures a fascinating series and now an intense standalone full of claustrophobia and creepiness.
STEPHEN MACK JONES
If the meaning of life is a puzzle awaiting assembly, then writers are purveyors of its pieces.
Madness on Campus
Helen Eustis’ The Horizontal Man
What About Murder?
Reference Books Reviewed
Sometimes, an idea needs time to incubate until it’s ready to grow. That was the case with Sujata Massey’s series about Perveen Mistry, a woman attorney practicing in India during the 1920s.
TIME TRAVEL, CATS, AND AN OLD MANUSCRIPT
Have you ever wished that you could go back in time and change something in your past or visit the future and find out what it has in store for you? Have you questioned what would happen if time travel was available to everyone? Could 9/11 have been prevented? Could the spread of COVID-19 have been eradicated before it ended so many lives?
I said my first words in a bar—“orange sody.” I eventually outgrew my love of Whistle orange soda, but I have a lifelong interest in bars.
JOHN COLLIER Fact & Fancy
Every generation or so, John Collier (1901-1980) is rediscovered. A poet, screenwriter, and novelist, Collier is best remembered for his short stories. His collection Fancies and Goodnights won an Edgar Award in 1952 for Best Story (which in MWA’s early years was occasionally awarded to a volume of stories).
It’s more than a book title. It’s an uncomfortable truth that pop culture’s most flawed yet-fascinating (and highly literate) serial predators seem to understand about their appeal, whether Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter or Caroline Kepnes’ Joe Goldberg.
WORK OUT WHERE?
YOU TRAIN LEGS, YOU TRAIN BACK, YOU TRAIN ARMS — BUT HOW OFTEN DO YOU TRAIN YOUR PELVIC FLOOR? HERE’S WHY YOU SHOULD.
LEARNING TO HEAR
With cochlear implants
RICHARD LEWIS HOBBLES BACK TO ‘CURB'
FRAIL funnyman Richard Lewis is making a heroic return to “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” for his pal, series creator and star Larry David!
The Benefits of Working Longer
Delaying retirement for a couple of years—or even a few months— is the most effective way to improve your retirement security.
WHY NO PEDALS OR AMPS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF CANADIAN PROG-METALLER AARON MARSHALL’S AGGRESSIVE NEW RECORD
HEATHER BLOWS UP!
Heavy times for ‘Dynasty’ doll
SOWING THE SEEDS
Experts share their tips for putting together the perfect community garden.
INDIAN LARRY'S BLOCK PARTY - REVISITED
Born To Ride continues to look back at our relationship with Indian Larry. Here is a reprint of an article BTR published in August 2004
MORE SIZZLE IN SOUTHPARK
Steak 48 is worth the buzz—and the splurge
Discovering Whole Person INTEGRATIVE EATING
The idea to explore a multidimensional, ancient-food-wisdom approach to food and eating had its genesis in New Delhi, India, where my co-author and husband, behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz, Ph.D., had been invited to present at the First International Conference on Lifestyle and Health. While there, I had the opportunity to interview clinical cardiologist Dr. K. L. Chopra—father and mentor of Deepak Chopra, M.D., who is an integrative medicine and personal-transformation pioneer—about a magazine article I was intending to write on yoga and diet.